You know, I have watched this show over and over again for the past 4 years since the show (and its dub) premiered on Neon Alley, Viz Media’s former linear anime network and it has been a while since I have watched it in its whole and plus…..I’ve been slacking in anime reviews as of recently and why not revisit on something that I remember liking?
Or at a time where Neon Alley was still a linear channel network? Yeah, I still miss that format.
Anyway, so moe girls and mecha? The otaku’s ultimate dream anime, isn’t it? I mean, based off the promotional images and PV around it, this seems like something that would easily attract a lot of wondering eyes and hopefully make it not suck.
Let’s look at the plot of this, shall we?
Madoka Kyouno is an energetic girl who is full of passion. As the proud, and only, member of the Kamogawa Girls’ High School Jersey Club, she goes around helping people in need.
Madoka’s life is turned upside down when she is suddenly asked by a mysterious girl named Lan to pilot a robot. Motivated by her desire to protect the people and city of Kamogawa, Madoka agrees to pilot the resurrected Vox robot to fight against extraterrestrials that have come to attack Earth.
OK, that seemed simple enough, right? Well, that is only the first season (or 1st cour) to this so I’ll get my thoughts on that out of the way first.
Yeah, this is a weird but simple story to follow. Aliens or beings from another world landed on Earth and of course, attacks happen and there is the mysterious mecha fighter whose pilots are….yup, three teenage girls. One being from Earth and the other two alien girls. Gundam it’s not but it does follow the same footsteps as other mecha shows like this from the politics to the invasion tactics to getting to know the opposing side and setting them with some characteristics that makes them more than just bland bad guys….at least for a bit. It is more character and dialogue-driven than just pure action.
Actually, come to think of it, it is part slice-of-life but it’s the type that balances the action and the lighter, fun moments but the show does know when to get back to the each element. One factor does not over weigh the other like there can be 3 episodes that are more into the slice-of-life style and next episode has an action/mecha feel although it does mix up in some episodes, yet the tone can be a bit jarring, not enough to throw you off what’s happening — that definitely applies in the 2nd season as well and I like the fact it gives us some depth into these characters and for what we got from them, it was solid. Not spectacular character writing but gives us enough reason to care and/or like our main leads.
For instance, let’s start with our lead Madoka….Kyono….not to be confused with the other one….Did they think in 2012 “oh, let’s name our lead character after one of the most popular anime in 2011!”? Anyway, she’s energetic, spunky, well-meaning and does like to help lot …..on paper, she seems like the perfect character that might get dull for a while but honestly, from all the shit she endured in here and further more in season 2, she represented herself to be an enduring character and easy to like, too. Especially that circle thing she does and says “Maru” or “Perfect” in the english dub. The same can be said for Lan and Muginami….although it was more so the former the first season as Lan does have the foreigner/alien learning Earth things aesthetic to her and we know how something like that turns out to be and the latter took some time adjusting to how she was going to be. Muginami seemed like she was created for the sake of fan service because, well…..yeah, you already know. But the show does share a decent backstory to her and gave her more dramatics and emotion to work with and she turned out well.
Oh yeah, there is also some supporting characters in the mix of this and like Yoko, Madoka’s cousin who is a researcher on underwater archaeology….and I always remember her for pulling down Madoka’s pants to find the Vox symbol on her ass……yeah, that’s a thing. Plus, the symbol is also on Lan’s chest and Muginami’s crotch…..OK, back to the characters…….
There are 3 pilots from De Metrio who is pretty much the opposite of our main three ladies. Kirius, Izo and Array and I think they were created because they need something for female audiences to keep in tune and….these guys aren’t half bad. Yeah, they served as the antagonists during the first season but they have change suit for the latter half although they do fall into types….well, all of them fall into the pretty boy type with Kirius the “main” composed one, Izo the rebellious bad boy type and Array the one that people might confuse for a girl and looks good in maid outfits. Yes, he is in a maid outfit in an episode. Oh, and there’s Villaguilo, leading them and yeah, I don’t got much for this guy. He’s the disowned prince of De Metrio but feels like an annoying little bitch in the first season and for the 2nd half…..OK, he softened up on me but I wasn’t exactly going “Oh, Villaguilo!! Don’t fuck him up!! PLEASE!”
OK, there’s no doubt that the art work here is colorful and sleek, especially with it comes to the mecha designs and the fight sequence. This definitely feels has Production I.G. all over this but……OK, they did animated this but they are more additional animation while the main animation company for this is Xebec. Although Xebec is no stranger to mecha shows as they are responsible for Successor Martian Nadesico…..i.e another anime I didn’t watch yet and I got to say Xebec and I.G. did their thing here. Character designs for the main three are the right amount of moe, not too exaggerated but enough to draw somebody in.
I will definitely say that both of the show’s openings are fantastic sounding to me and I equally love both of them.”Try Unite!” does have that j-pop/dance sound that makes you want to move and it being upbeat gives the anime more bounce (although the piano version is fitting to most situations in the show as well) and the other one “Marble” in the 2nd season has that emotional swell and beat that definitely fits within the tone there. As for the endings…..well, “Hello!” has that lighthearted and jaunty vibe that sometimes doesn’t mesh well in the serious episodes but does in the lighter ones and for an opening on ep. 12 of the 1st season, it was OK. The other ending song, “Jersey Club Spirit!” was rightfully used in the lighter episodes in season 2 (1-3 and 7-9) and for me, “Don’t Forget Me” was the best ending song of the three although it was the one with the least impressive animation in my opinion.
For the English dub, ADR writing and direction was done by Kristi Reed, although with this and Accel World, it was probably her last jobs before doing casting work for Western Animation shows and this show’s dub was pretty good. This was also the first exposure (at least for a main role) we see of Kira Buckland as the lead Madoka and I genuinely liked her performance on this and I do like the fact Bang Zoom puts their newer/rookie actors in main roles to showcase their talents while still having their veterans there in the supporting roles but they still deliver solid performances like Wendee Lee, Keith Silverstein, Patrick Seitz, Stephanie Sheh, Kirk Thornton, Johnny Yong Bosch, Ben Diskin, Sam Riegel among others.
Oh, and since I mentioned that the character’s name was Madoka, two Madoka Magica alums appear here ala Christine Marie Cabanos and Cristina Vee as Michi and Sachi, respectively, the two friends of Madoka.
FINAL VERDICT: LaGrange: The Flower of Rin-Ne is a flawed but enjoyable series from beginning to end. The show has decent characters and a story line to get through even if you wonder what the hell was going on. Still, this was an alright show to get through and it’s a solid recommendation for those that like their sci-fi a bit light-hearted.
So while this is not Maru, this is still acceptable.
LAGRANGE: THE FLOWER OF RIN-NE is available on DVD and Blu-Ray via Viz Media. Streaming options are available on Hulu Plus and Yahoo View.
This is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and if there’s a sign I should pilot a mecha, don’t put the signal anywhere near my ass.
LAGRANGE: THE FLOWER OF RIN-NE – animated by XEBEC/PRODUCTION I.G. / licensed by VIZ MEDIA